WABI’’’ real time : It’s late September and we are alongside the yacht haven marina in Falmouth….strange i know but it’s blowing old boots outside, what may have been untethered children and small animals just flew past the window. Seriously though it’s blowing a good 40 mph here and we are tied up snug on the inside berth, even now on the outside the 2 big Scillonian pilot cutters Amelie Rose and Agnes are bouncing a bit and surging on their lines.
This morning we made a very quick decision to get the boat into shelter after we saw the weather forecast : what looks like the remnants of a tropical storm is blowing through. Last night we anchored in the Haven’s anchorage just off the quay’s, that was ok last night but even now the boats that are anchored off are pulling hard back on their rodes.
I think we would have been ok at anchor as i trust our gear and the holding is thick black mud , we do have a small technical problem though which is that WABI’s depth-sounder is being even more than normally unhelpful so i had no idea of the depth in the anchorage…..i could only guess at how much scope to put out last night. Today there’s going to be very heavy rain and strong winds for about 6 hours and tomorrow looks to be about 12 hours worth. As i write there’s a cruise ship trying to dock against the main harbour… i hope his bow thrusters are working well this morning.
So, we are out sailing again for a late summer/early autumn cruise…..more autumn than late summer this morning i think !
Just over 2 weeks ago Chris the boss put us down the slip on the trolley rather than lifting us off with the hoist , much better for the soft new paint which then was less than 5 days old, that went well so on the same day we headed downriver again, our plan : go where the wind is going !
Back in Ruan creek and ‘on the beach’
Once again this year we had unusual weather for the Uk in the form of a light easterly airstream which generally increased and just in the east for the next 10 days : for me that meant that the obvious way to go was west after one hideaway night in the Yealm river. I was feeling pretty lazy so rather than do the whole passage in one long day we sailed from the Yealm to Lantic bay in one easy daysail and then from Fowey to Falmouth the next. For the last 10 days we have been ‘micro-cruising’ around the Falmouth rivers and creeks and gosh….as far as the Helford river ! With the France voyage this year i feel as though i have done a decent offshore passage and some rugged coastal cruising : for this Autumn cruise i just wanted to take it easy and go exploring the rivers and creeks off the Fal, some that i know already although and particularly those that i don’t.
The unusual thing about this cruise so far is the persistent easterly wind direction which changes the feel of the Helford river and the anchorages within the Falmouth rivers completely : i don’t think i have ever been in Falmouth in brisk easterlies and certainly not in what we’ve got right now which is a full-on south-westerly gale. In a way that’s all to the good because it’s made me go look for anchorages that are sheltered from the east which has meant us poking into some of the creeks that i haven’t been into before. More normally the depression out in the Atlantic is giving us strong winds from south, through south-west to west so the inner harbour is just about the best place to be. Right now we really only had 2 choices : go and shelter in a creek or go alongside for a couple of days, i don’t mind at all being wind bound in a sheltered creek just as i did in the Odet Fleuve but here we can get ashore during breaks in the weather …..and i can hear fish-n-chips calling !
Anchorage and beach at the lesser Moulnan
For this post i’ll just do a quick look at a couple of the new places that we anchored and had a look at this year.
Easterly anchorages first.
A bit like Plymouth i’m very familiar with the anchorages i would use here in Falmouth when the wind is light to moderate anywhere from the south, through west to the north….in other words the more usual wind direction we tend to get during the ’summer’ down here in the west country.
First up today is a little anchorage i saw many years ago but never had the opportunity to put into myself and it’s almost not in the main part of the river and actually south of Black rock, which as many readers know sits right in the middle of the main fairway. The anchorage i am talking about is just inside St Anthony head next to 2 groups of rocks called the greater and lesser Moulnan and directly off a small beach right in the south-eastern corner inside the headland. The first time i noticed the spot had nothing to do with sailing as i was walking this part of the south-west coast path many years ago and walked right past here. From that point on the coast path the walker then has to take a short ferry ride from a jetty just near a place called ‘Place’ , first to St Mawes and then across to Falmouth town.
I don’t think the anchorage has a name, correct me if i’m wrong so i’ll just refer to it as the ‘Moulnan’ beach anchorage after the reef that runs out from the shore and forms the northern edge of the useful anchoring area. From what i could see the bottom was mainly sand with some patches of weed , the most useful area being almost directly in front of the beach. The anchorage is very well sheltered from the east and ESE but i did notice that as soon as there is much more south in the wind that a swell does come around St Anthony head…..not enough to make the anchorage untenable but enough to start the boat rolling a bit. Conversely the anchorage is completely open to the west and south west which is why iv’e never used it in the past. On the first day we anchored there , which was a weekend it did seem to be the place to be : from just 2 other yachts and a motor boat when we anchored there were at least 20 when we left that afternoon. There did seem to be some kind of small boat rally going on with several good cruising dinghy’s on the water and landing on the beach.
Second….St Mawes and the Percuil river. Just north of the ‘Moulnan’ anchorage is the entrance to St Mawes harbour and once again, aside from taking the ferry from there iv’e never been up the river and in an easterly it’s an obvious place to go and hang out. The main harbour of St Mawes is very open to the west and doesn’t get much of a lee from the Pendennis side. Just inside the entrance on the south side of the harbour is a very useful shallow bay called Cellar beach, and a place called ‘Place’ which seems to be a big posh house/mansion behind….i seem to remember walking around the back of it many years ago and there being lots of ‘private…we’re very special and important’ signs there. Whatever….the anchorage is a useful one for the micro-cruiser as it’s sheltered from everywhere except the north and the bottom is good thick, gloopy mud.
The obvious place to go in the brisk easterly we had that day was to sail further up the St Mawes/Percuil river to another shallow bay : Pelyn creek at the first north-westward turn of the river just by the sailing club at Percuil. Pelyn creek looks as though it has almost all round shelter except a short fetch from the south west which couldn’t come to much as the river isn’t very wide at that point. On the day there were a few deep keeled yachts anchored in the deeper water just outside the creek itself…..and one that faffed around for about 6 passes before he anchored…..we poked into, i guess much shallower water : probably around 4-5 feet at a low water neap but that’s just a guess from the drop of the anchor as the depth sounder was doing it’s usual sulk !. The Percuil river is noted as having oyster beds and a warning against anchoring, i don’t know about the creek though and it did look as though it is common practice to anchor there.
On the beach…Turnaware point